President Trump has decided to cease U.S. support to moderate rebel groups in Syria. And it’s a big mistake.
The president’s decision will empower jihadism, Assad, Iran, and Russia. It will also fuel violent political sectarianism across the Middle East. And in all these things, it makes America less safe.
First off, losing their access to U.S. funding, weapons, and mentorship from the CIA, the rebels face absorption or destruction by jihadist groups.
Thanks to Trump, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda’s Syria syndicate, and other Salafi-Jihadist organizations will remain the only well-funded groups fighting Assad’s regime. That matters in that for many Syrian Sunnis, Assad is the enemy that must be defeated. And if necessary, otherwise moderate fighters will join jihadist groups in order to fight him. Trump has given these moderate rebels a binary choice: join the jihadists or accept Assad. They are highly unlikely to choose the latter. Trump talks tough on counter-terrorism, but this decision serves the exact opposite agenda.
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